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The Altair Hypercam IMX174 camera has the sought-after Sony Pregius Global Shutter IMX174 CMOS sensor, with extremely low read noise and 2.3 megapixel resolution.
The IMX174 sensor is particularily desirable for solar and high resolution planetary imaging at long focal lengths, where high frame rates, and high dynamic range are required to get the most detail in post processing.
Hypercam IMX174 imaging applications: The IMX174 sensor is a very good match for a Daystar Quark with refractor because the large pixel size, global shutter, low read noise and wide dynamic range allow prominences and surface detail to be captured in the same frame, without having to over-expose the image and lose detail. Images sharpen up very well because there is no fixed pattern noise with this sensor. The Hypercam IMX174 camera has been developed with solar imaging in mind, and works best with 100mm plus refractors and the Daystar Quark operating at around 3000mm focal length or more. It really comes into it's own with larger refractors.
To sum it up, the most desirable features of the IMX174 sensor are:
- Large format 1/2" sensor
- Peak quantum efficiency of 78%
- Global shutter eliminates motion distortion inherent in rolling shutter sensors, as well as CCD-smearing.
- Fixed pattern noise (common with global shutter CMOS cameras) is eliminated
- Low read noise 6 electrons (e-)
- Saturation (full well) capacity 32,000 electrons (e-)
- Dynamic range 73 dB
Video astronomy and long exposure deepsky imaging: Although the Hypercam IMX174 is considered the best tool for long focal length solar system imaging, it is also quite capable of long exposures, and will deliver very good results for deepsky imaging and video astronomy (or EAA) using the Live Stacking features in the free AltairCapture software or SharpCap. Time-lapse all-sky imaging and video is fully supported, and the camera can be used with a CS-Mount lens to hunt for meteors or aurora.
Speed and reliability in one camera: USB3.0 and on-board memory buffering give much faster transfer speeds than the GPCAM USB2.0 series, pushing the USB3.0 format to the limit, yet within a stable envelope. Memory buffering almost completely eliminates dropped frames and corrupted video files, a common problem with USB cameras, and enables faster more consistent frame rates, even with less powerful notebook computers. Consistency and stability is improved for video capture sequences - especially desirable for scientific applications.
Autoguiding: The camera has an ST4 auto-guiding port, and can be used to auto-guide with mounts from all the major manufacturers supporting ST4 format, including iOptron, Celestron and Skywatcher.
Fan cooling: The Hypercam is cooled with and internal low vibration fan. The fan can be switched on or off and the speed controlled in AltairCapture and SharpCap. Cool air is drawn in through the vents at the side of the casing, over a large internal heat-sink. The heat-sink is connected directly with the sensor board just like a computer CPU. The free flow of air through the casing cools not only the sensor, but all the internal electronics boards. Cooling is especially desirable for long exposure imaging to reduce thermal noise. Some camera casings get uncomfortably hot during a solar imaging session, and the sensor can reach around 60 or even 70 degrees. This can cause the electronics to become glitchy and unreliable. The Hypercam is designed for consistent, reliable solar imaging with a solar filter and diagonal or Hershel Wedge. With the fan running, the Hypercam casing will always remain cool.